Wednesday, June 29, 2016

ON THE ROAD AGAIN - TO HOUGHTON LAKE MICHIGAN

Currently in Houghton Lake MI (Low 42 Sunny Currently 54)
Heading to Sault Ste Marie MI (Currently 55 Mostly Sunny High 72) 

We got our door ding fixed, which we will blog about later, and we left the Elkhart Campground and headed to the Houghton Lake Travel Park in Houghton Lake Michigan. We are digging the cooler temperatures, it was actually chilly overnight. Really appreciated the fireplace this morning.



It was 227 or so miles, a little longer than we like but we are anxious to get to the Soo.  We had dueling GPS devices again and we chose poorly. We ended up with about 250 miles, 4 hours 40 minutes with road construction, an accident, and 2 stops to stretch legs etc. We were kind of bellyaching about the extra time and confusion when we came upon probably the worst wreck we have ever seen. It was just before one of the road construction areas and the driver of the car apparently did not heed the signs and slammed into the back of a semi at a very high rate of speed. We later learned it was a fatality accident. Puts everything into perspective when things like this happen.

We are OK with our door ding that only cost us 1 day on the Upper Peninsula. It did cost us 3 days near the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan but now we have something to see the next time. This is kinda the route we took, doubt it could be recreated on a map.



We stayed hooked up since we are leaving today for the Soo. We did take advantage of full hookups since we will be water and electric for the next 6 nights. Should be interesting as it will be like camping for us, 30amp and no sewer.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Friday, June 24, 2016

WE FINALLY GOT A WIN

Currently in Elkhart IN (Low 60 Sunshine and Patchy Clouds High 83) 

We really needed a win and we got one yesterday. We have blogged about our trouble with the Bigfoot automatic hydraulic levelers. We have had the system for a year and a half and we have successfully leveled automatically just twice. We have added a kill switch and replaced the sensor and panel with no luck. So yesterday we drove to White Pidgeon Michigan about 30 minutes away to Quadra Manufacturing who builds the Bigfoot systems.



We weren't sure it would be worth the trip since Bob had just been talking to another Lifestyle owner in the RV Park in North Utica Illinois who had replaced the sensor twice and it still did not work. When we got there Kyle Rifenberg was the technician assigned to help us. Andy assisted him on a couple of things. We turned the kill switch to on and unhooked the truck. After auto leveling we were not level so Kyle began some troubleshooting. The limit switches were OK so Kyle replaced the sensor again. He then set the level manually. Now the real testing began.

The rear jacks were raised and the front jacks moved and then auto leveled again with success. Kyle then had Bob do the same thing and it auto leveled again. Kyle then had Jo do the same thing and it auto leveled again, surpassing the total number of successful levels since we got it in February 2015.

The success continued once we got back to the Elkhart Campground and it leveled again. That makes it 4 straight times, even after traveling, although a short distance.

We needed a win and we got one!  

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Thursday, June 23, 2016

ON THE ROAD AGAIN - TO ELKHART INDIANA

Currently in Elkhart IN (Low 57 Stormy High 77) 

After an adventurous time of family and mower propelled rocks we left North Utica Illinois yesterday and drove to the Elkhart Campground in Elkhart Indiana.



It was approximately 172 miles landing us in the Eastern Daylight Timezone, this is the route we took.



Bob had contacted Michele Henry from Phoenix Commercial Paint Inc. earlier in the week and although she is no longer in business she agreed to stop by and take a look since she was working in the area. Bob got the name from the Gypsy Journal 'RV Good Guys' list and we can see why she is on the list. We'll have more about the repair of our door ding later.

With all we had going on we forgot to change the address of our weather alert system. We were watching TV last night and we first got a severe thunderstorm warning and shortly thereafter a tornado on the ground warning near our area. Luckily that area was Utica Illinois. Lucky for us that is but not for the Utica area as they had some damage. We changed the address and the phone calls stopped. We did get a lot of rain and we were under a tornado watch as the evening progressed. We also lost power for a few hours. It's great to be back in the midwest :-)

We stayed hooked up last night because we are heading this morning to Quadra Manufacturing to have our Bigfoot leveling system looked at. We have replaced a sensor and added an on/off switch but it is still not operating properly. We are in a grass site so we will decide later whether to go today or give it a day to dry out and go tomorrow.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

WE MUST HAVE A TARGET

Currently in North Utica IL (Low 61 Partly Sunny and Less Humid High 83) 

We feel like we must have a target painted on the RVs that we have owned. First it was the broken window incident on the Cameo in 2012 where a weedeater flung a rock breaking a window, turning a one week stay into a 7 week stay. Bob was sitting at the dinette table when it hit that window, luckily just breaking the outer pane.

Yesterday Jo was talking to her brother when she said it sounded and felt like we had been hit by a gunshot. This time it wasn't a weedeater, this time it was a mower that flung a rock into our door of our Lifestyle.



If someone had been in the path of the rock it would have done some serious damage. The park contacted their insurance company and the agent came out and took pictures. We are supposed to hear today about the claim. We plan on continuing our adventure tomorrow heading to Elkhart Indiana.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, June 20, 2016

ON THE ROAD AGAIN - CATCHING UP

Currently in North Utica IL (Low 75 Afternoon Thunderstorms High 90) 

The ObamaCare nightmare played havoc with our blogging so we are catching up on a couple of 'On the Road Again' postings.  It has been a couple of days and all but one of the comments across all of social media were supportive. The negative comment supporting ObamaCare came from a Canadian. Guess their health care must be bad if ObamaCare looks so good in comparison :-)

Anyway, on to our travels. We drove from Storm Lake Iowa to Lazy Acres RV Park in Center Point Iowa for a very short stay.



This is the route we took for the 189 mile journey.



While here we shopped at Sam's Club in Cedar Rapids and other than going to Mass and catching up on laundry we just relaxed from the hectic pace we have set.

After our short stay at Lazy Acres RV Park we left yesterday and drove to Hickory Hollow Campground in North Utica Illinois.



This is the route we took for the 192 mile journey. Since it was through some major traffic areas we traveled on a Sunday.



While here we plan to travel a little west and visit Bob's aunt and cousins today. Then tomorrow we will travel a little east and visit Jo's nephew. Should be a whirlwind couple of days. So much for relaxing.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Sunday, June 19, 2016

CATCHING UP - REVIEW OF VIKING LAKE STATE PARK

Catching up for our camping at Viking Lake State Park near Stanton Iowa. This is a nice State Park with campsites right next to Viking Lake.



Here is a swan on Viking Lake.



GPS did a good job getting us here, plus there a few signs along the way to help. The campground roads and sites are gravel. There is no park Wifi and the Verizon 4g/cellular signal was weak. There are a lot of trees but some sites can get a good line of sight for satellite reception so we reserved one of those.

Here is the Lifestyle from the front in our site.



To the left



To the right



From the rear taken from the road above



This is a nice park and it is one of the more popular campgrounds 
in southwest Iowa. There are spots you can reserve in advance and some that are first-come, first serve. An added bonus is a lake side restaurant right in the park. We ate there with her cousin Sally and her husband Larry. Also with us were Jo's cousin Denny and his wife Peg. The food was pretty good but the view overlooking the lake was even better.



The flowers near the restaurant were gorgeous.



While here Jo was able to visit with her Aunt Dolly who will be 93 later this month.



She also visited with her cousins Denny and Sally.



We had a great time and would stay here again.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, June 18, 2016

OBAMACARE STRIKES AGAIN

Bob got an email yesterday that has interfered with our blogging, and our lives, ObamaCare has struck Bob again. Caution: there will be some ranting that follows. Note: only undeniable facts will follow, how they are interpreted is up to the reader.

The email that Bob got told him that United HealthCare, his ObamaCare provider, will no longer offer individual policies next year. Last year Blue Cross Blue Shield also dropped individual policies which sent him to United HealthCare this year. If this keeps up Bob thinks he may need one of these (a nut cup if you are unsure).



Here are the undeniable facts about ObamaCare in the two years Bob has had coverage:
- he lost his retiree medical coverage due to ObamaCare
- his premium has gone up 4 times
- his deductible has gone up 8 times
- his out of pocket max has gone up 16 times
- there are more uninsured now than there were when the legislation went into effect
- even with the subsidies ObamaCare is still too expensive for some of the people it was meant to help
- not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted for ObamaCare.

There are also some undeniable lies about ObamaCare:
- if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor (see above)
- if you like your insurance you can keep your insurance (see above)
- costs will go down (see above)

Bob is now researching options for next year and the costs will undoubtedly go up again. Whoever thought Bob would be yearning for Medicare, which unfortunately is a few years away. Just long enough for the politicians to screw that up.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Thursday, June 16, 2016

ON THE ROAD AGAIN - TO STORM LAKE IOWA

Currently in Storm Lake IA (Low 58 Mostly Sunny High 88) 

We left Viking Lake State Park yesterday and headed to Sunrise Campground in Storm Lake Iowa.



This is the route we took on the 134 mile journey although there was a road construction detour.



Bob's sister was already in the campground in her Scamp fifth wheel.



During our 2 night stay we will visit Bob's uncle and cousins.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

CATCHING UP - REVIEW OF BASSWOOD RV RESORT

Currently in Stanton IA (Low 64 Sunny Currently 70)
Heading to Storm Lake IA (Currently 67 Partly Sunny High 89) 

Catching up on our recent stay at the Basswood RV Resort. The term 'resort' is thrown out a lot in the RV world but this place may be deserving of the moniker. The complex is amazing with luxury suites, RV sites, cabins, fishing lakes, clubhouse, an event space where the rehearsal dinner was held, etc. 

As we mentioned in our previous post this location is GPS-challenged. Because of that, or their 'resort' status, they have the best signage we have seen. They even allowed for the alternate routes that some GPS devices may send you on.

The park roads are asphalt. There are a few deluxe sites that have concrete sites and patios but we are in the gravel sites area. Or at least we thought we were as we were pulling in. We took the asphalt road to our site and saw gravel sites one after the other. What we didn't realize is that our site was the last on the row and it was on asphalt which is a big bonus.

The park WiFi is supposedly good in their hotspot areas but we were in a fringe area. Luckily our Pepwave Surf Soho router with its two antennas helped the signal strength enough so that in low usage times it was OK. The area is weak though for 4g/cellular and even weak on GPS at times, probably due to the trees. There are a lot of trees but a number of sites can get a good line of sight for satellite service and we were in one. They offer CableTV in case you don't have, or can't get, a good satellite signal.

Here we are in our site



To the right



To the left



From the rear showing the asphalt site/road.



This is a nice park and worked out great for us since the rehearsal dinner was at the Basswood Hall in the park and the wedding was about 8 miles away.

We are leaving Viking Lake State Park today and heading to Storm Lake Iowa continuing our 'friends, family and backroads tour'.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

ON THE ROAD AGAIN - TO STANTON IOWA

Currently in Stanton IA (Low 71 Showers High 87) 

We left Basswood RV Resort yesterday and drove to Viking Lake State Park near Stanton, Iowa.



This is the route we took for the 131 mile journey.



While here we will be visiting Jo's aunt and cousins. Then we are off to northwest Iowa to visit Bob's uncle and cousins along with his sister.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, June 13, 2016

YOU CAN PUT LIPSTICK ON A PIG

Currently in Platte City MO (Low 65 Partly Cloudy Currently 70)
Heading to Stanton IA (Currently 73 Thunder Storms later High 90) 

You have heard the old saying, "you can put lipstick on a pig - but it's still a pig". Well that is how we felt when we were getting ready to go to the formal wedding of Jo's great nephew (#Hall2Doll).

You can put fancy clothes on us but we are still fulltime RVers. Bob was trying on his slacks and new shirt and new jacket with shoes and socks. We did this in the bedroom and woke our cat JJ up who was asleep on the bed. He got one of the most frightened looks we have ever seen, jumped down from the bed and headed downstairs. About halfway there he looked back up, we guess to confirm that it was really happening and wasn't a nightmare. He probably was so used to our regular fulltimers uniforms of shorts and t-shirts. He then went and hid. Cats really like things to stay the same and not change and we guess this change was a little too much.



Now Jo says Bob looked all right so it wasn't what some of you are probably thinking. In spite of scaring one of JJ's lifes we had a good time at the wedding and reception. Here is the new bride and groom, Mr. and Mrs. Matt Doll. It was an outdoor wedding and a little warm so off came the jackets.



Here we are all gussied up at the reception.



Here is Jo with her niece, the mother of the groom.



It was held at the Eighteen Ninety Event Space in Platte City Missouri.



As we were driving home we saw this wonderful sunset. The perfect ending to a great day.



We are back to our regular fulltimers uniform as we continue our journey across this great country. Today we head to Viking Lake State Park near Red Oak Iowa to see Jo's aunt and cousins.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, June 11, 2016

CATCHING UP - REVIEW OF PECULIAR PARK PLACE RV PARK

Currently in Platte City MO (Low 72 Partly Sunny High 93) 

We recently spent a month at the Peculiar Park Place RV Park in Peculiar Missouri. As we have mentioned before this is the same park we spent our first night of living fulltime in an RV. Here we are in 2009 with our Cameo (don't we look young).



Here is the Lifestyle in the same spot.



This park is one of the best options for the Kansas City area, especially for a longer stay. It is located right next to Interstate 49 on the south side of the metroplex which is busy so the road noise can be an issue. Luckily our backin site has trees and the newer sites between us and the road so the noise isn't that bad. The roads are gravel as are the sites. We have a bricked patio with a concrete picnic table like structure. Most sites have a great line of sight for satellite dishes. The park WiFi is good most of the time for free park WiFi and the Verizon cellular/4g signal strength is strong.

Here it is from our site to the left



To the right



Here is the Lifestyle from the back showing the trees and other rigs blocking the road noise.



Being a park in the Midwest during the spring it is great that they have a place to go when it is storming.




It felt like coming home when we pulled into this park and we will be back anytime we are in the area. 

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Thursday, June 9, 2016

WE MAY BE CURSED

Currently in Platte City MO (Low 70 Partly Sunny High 91) 

We are wondering if maybe we are cursed. When we started looking at RVs our first dream was a Teton Home. We have to admit that it was probably due to the fact that their was a yearly raffle for a Teton Home paired with a tow vehicle. We never won and before we were ready to buy Teton Homes went out of business. 

Our next favorite was the fifth wheels from Travel Supreme. Before we were ready to buy Travel Supreme went out of business. Are you sensing a pattern?

When we were ready to buy in 2009 we were down to our final 3 candidates; Hitchhiker from NuWa, Mobile Suites from Doubletree and Cameo from Carriage. About this time NuWa was having problems and ceased operations for awhile. We went with a Cameo from Carriage.



Just after 2 year warranty ran out, you guessed it, Carriage went out of business. After 5 years in the Cameo we decided we wanted a slightly larger fifth wheel and our final 2 was NuWa and Lifestyle. NuWa was back in business with a limited number of RVs being made by Peterson Industries which makes the Excel brand. Lifestyle was formed as a division of Evergreen with a lot of Carriage designers and fabricators on board. Before we could make a decision Peterson Industries went out of business. The curse continues. We ended up buying a new Lifestyle.



We just heard that Lifestyle's parent company Evergreen might be going out of business this week. We don't want to cause any more disruptions to the RV manufactures so our current Lifestyle is our last RV. That is unless we win a big prize in the lottery. If that happens expect New Horizon to go out of business shortly thereafter.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, June 6, 2016

ON THE ROAD AGAIN - TO PLATTE CITY MISSOURI

Currently in Platte City MO (Low 64 Sunny High 86) 

We left Peculiar MO yesterday and drove about 54 miles, even for us a short trip. Our destination was Basswood RV Resort in Platte City Missouri.



This is the route we took. Both our Rand McNally GPS and the Garmin GPS had trouble with the route. Luckily Basswood RV Resort had road signs which got us right to the park.



We took the short trip to be nearer the wedding of Jo's great nephew. We will be here a week relaxing from the hectic schedule we had in Peculiar with family, friends, food and doctors. Seems like we were always on the go the last month.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Sunday, June 5, 2016

WHEN BOB MET "THE GREATEST"

Currently in Peculiar MO (Low 60 Sunny Currently 66)
Heading to Platte City MO (Currently 64 Sunny High 82) 

It was almost 40 years ago, 1970-something, when Bob was a Mechanical Engineering student at Iowa State University. He attended the American Power Conference in Chicago as one of the few college students to attend. During one lunch break Bob came back to the table from the salad bar and his friends were all wide eyed and asked Bob if that was Muhammad Ali. Apparently he was next to Bob at the salad bar and while Bob realized someone was there he had no idea who it was.

We asked the maitre d if it would be OK to meet him. He said it would be OK if we waited until Ali and his family was finished eating so we waited. When the maitre d signaled it was time we walked over. Somehow Bob ended up being first and he stuck out his hand and said "Hi Champ".

Ali shook his hand, squeezed it a little while pulling it slightly and said, "did you call me tramp". Bob's life flashed before his eyes then Ali smiled and shook hands with everybody else. A couple of things Bob recalls that Ali's hand was huge and that his smile was amazing.

Remember this was 1970-something so we have no photos from this encounter. Bob was at a technical conference and wasn't a tourist so nobody had a camera, in fact nobody even had a phone if you can believe that. 

Bob doesn't even remember anyone that he was with but has the lasting memory of being scared, albeit temporarily, by "The Greatest".


We leave today for Basswood RV Resort in Platte City Missouri.




Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, June 4, 2016

BIRD FEEDERS AND A SHELTER FROM STORMS

Currently in Peculiar MO (Low 60 Times of Clouds and Sun High 81) 

We have a sentimental attachment to Peculiar Park Place RV Park. It was the first park we stayed at while fulltimers, 6 and 1/2 years ago if you can believe that. We were in this same exact spot back then, now with the Lifestyle, back then it was the Cameo.



A few years ago people thought Frosty and Gayle were crazy when they put in the park south of Peculiar Missouri, 27 miles from downtown Kansas City.



Many years and awards later the park is still going strong. In addition to adding more sites and working on adding more the park has added a 'gathering place' in case of bad weather. There are so many regulations regarding storm shelters, with our governments these days imagine that, that they cannot call it a storm shelter. Looks pretty sturdy to us with 8" concrete walls and roof. We are thankful that this 'gathering place' is there in case of a tornado, a very welcome upgrade to the park's facilities. We are even more thankful that we have not had to use it.



We are in a backin with trees behind us. Trees mean birds so we set out our feeders.


Our first visitor was an oriole




Who then moved to the window mounted feeder




Here is a rose-breasted grosbeak that visited



We have seen hummingbirds 



We've also seen red bellied woodpeckers, sparrows, cowbirds, maybe even a bunting but have not gotten a great photo of them yet. We and the cats, truth be told probably us more, really enjoy the birdwatching. 

We leave tomorrow to a park just north of the river, still in the Kansas City area.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Thursday, June 2, 2016

TINY HOUSE LIVING

Currently in Peculiar MO (Low 58 Partly Sunny High 80) 

With apologies to Reba McEntire and her hit song, "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool", we were tiny house living when tiny house living wasn't cool.



If you watch HGTV and similar channels the latest rage is tiny house living, from "Tiny House Hunters" to "Tiny House Living" to "Tiny House Nation" to "Tiny House, Big Living" and so on. We watch some of those shows and while we admire the potential tiny house people for downsizing and being able to pay with cash because tiny houses are cheaper than full sized houses, especially the younger ones, but we just don't get it, especially when they want to take them on the road. Here is an example from the web.



Every once in a while they will take the potential buyers and show them an RV and occasionally they will end up with one but for the most part they get a real tiny house. Sometimes they will even build on a fifth wheel frame which makes more sense. Another one from the web showing a more stationary one.



While we admit that these tiny houses do look cool from the outside and with house type construction they are better insulated than RVs. One thing that we don't get in those type of homes though is the lack of closet space. In our "tiny house" we have a 6' closet across the front of the RV plus a dresser for clothes plus a linen closet. We also don't get the small kitchens, some with dorm sized refrigerators and hot plates for cooking and no counters. We have a full sized residential refrigerator with a gas burning cooktop and oven, an island with a dishwasher and lots of counter space. Here is a picture from Lifestyle RV showing our floorplan with all the stuff mentioned, and more.


We also don't get the bedrooms, most of them in lofts that you can hit your head after walking up a ladder. Our bedroom is three easy steps upstairs and has a king sized bed. Tiny houses built on fifth wheel frames do get better bedrooms. Here is a photo showing our bed and the closet behind the glass doors.



So if you are in the tiny house market, or like "puttin' peanuts in your coke", then consider a RV for more spacious living. Truly a condo on wheels. The great thing about the RVs available, and the tiny houses available, is that you can choose something that meets your needs. Depending on what is chosen a tiny house could be cheaper than a RV. Just make sure to consider not only how cool it is to downsize and how liberating it is to live on the road, you want to be comfortable when you are doing it. 

"I'm just glad we are in a country where we're are all free to choose".

Till next time,

Bob and Jo